Various Artists – Slaying Since 1996

5 out of 5

Label: Suicide Squeeze

Produced by: Various

Suicide Squeeze always seemed like the quieter cousin of its Washington brethren: the kooky and brash K Records; the uber-cool Up Records. Squeeze, meanwhile, sat on the fringes, wearing its cool-but-worn sneakers, hipster retro T, and goofy sunglasses, and maybe occasionally adding to the conversation, but otherwise content to be pigeon-holed as a purveyor of a particular type of indie pop – bubbly guitars; whispered harmonies; catchy, angular melodies.

And then you look at the totality of their roster, and realize – damn: maybe this has been the cousin I should’ve been paying attention to this whole time?

My actual opinion of their stable aside, SS have had a mighty run of some pretty big names and some great lesser-known names in their time, ping-ponging across a possibly wider range of genres than the other mentioned labels, while also kind of remaining in a lane that allows one to hop from one release to another fairly easily. Pieced together for a two-disc comp of their works, that range, and the way it all fits together, is especially impressive, but we’re anted-up by further considerations for our listening pleasure: the sequencing on these discs is fantastic, clustering pop and harsher stuff together, and putting it in an order that purposefully leads us from more accessible openers to more minimalist or more outré offshoots, circling back around to concluders that end each disc with quite a punch. The cherry-picked tracks are not always the most obvious offerings from all the groups, but they are perfect for giving us a nice representation of what they can do, while also slotting in for the desired effect of the listenability of this comp.

So it’s very listenable, and it gives you a wide sampling of what Suicide Squeeze does – those are the main requisites for a good comp. But let’s knock it out of the park by also mixing in a lot of previously unreleased or rare material – though not to the extent that the flow of the album / quality of the material suffers – and have full credits that tell us from whence all these tracks come, in case we want to track them down.

That’s the full package.

Slaying Since 1996 is thus both a celebration of the label’s history, and also an excellent taste-test of a really varied selection of their material – for anyone interested in exploring, or even just wanting a good sounds-like comp of stuff adjacent to albums possibly already in their collection.